by Sharon Rondeau
Rich’s case catapulted back into the news on Tuesday by means of the announcement of a lawsuit filed by private investigator Rod Wheeler claiming that Fox News erroneously attributed statements to him on the subject in May; that President Trump encouraged Fox to publish its May 16 article to deflect attention from the “Russia collusion” narrative; and that Fox has discriminated against Wheeler on the basis of his race in his role as a paid contributor.
Wheeler was hired by a private individual, Ed Butowsky, an unpaid Fox News contributor and Texas businessman, to run a parallel investigation into Rich’s death for the family out of frustration that the Metro DC PD was not producing results. Butowsky is also a named defendant in the lawsuit; both he and Fox News executives have denied Wheeler’s claims.
During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump has no knowledge of the May 16 Fox News article while responding to two questions from seemingly angry reporters.
Since before he took office, Trump and his campaign aides have been accused of “colluding” with the Russian government to see that he won the presidency over Democrat rival Hillary Clinton. Trump has denied the claims, and thus far, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III has not declared that any evidence supporting the allegations has been found.
Dotcom, a resident of New Zealand, is the defendant in a case brought by the Obama Department of Justice in early 2012 alleging that he operated an illegal file-sharing website, Megaupload, by infringing copyrights and committing wire fraud.
Dotcom denies the allegations and has been fighting an extradition request from the DOJ since 2012.
On Tuesday, various mainstream sources, beginning with those in New Zealand, reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Dotcom by using the resources of the GCSB, New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA, and that the GCSB claimed not to have known.
New Zealand and the U.S. are two members of the “Five Eyes” which allow the sharing with the other members of the intelligence they routinely collect.
In late May, Dotcom published a letter from his legal team to Mueller offering to make Dotcom available to testify in the U.S. about information he claims to have pertinent to the Russia investigation. The law firm requested that Mueller agree to provide Dotcom safe passage to and from the U.S. given its extradition request.
Several weeks ago, Dotcom tweeted that his attorneys had not received a response from Mueller.
On his website shortly thereafter, Dotcom wrote:
I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.
The mainstream media has attempted to frame anyone questioning the publicly-proffered narrative that Rich was the victim of a “botched robbery” as a “conspiracy theorist.”
The Washington Post and other publications have attempted to discredit Dotcom’s claims rather than investigating them.
Fox News’s Sean Hannity has said that if Rich was the source of the tens of thousands of DNC emails leaked to WikiLeaks in early summer last year, the allegation by some in the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian government “hacked” the DNC server could be false.
Former FBI Director James Comey stated under oath that the DNC did not consent to an FBI inspection of its servers.
As this Story went to press, Dotcom issued to more tweets, reminding his followers that Mueller has not responded to his legal team. In the other he stated, “Mr. Mueller, the NSA spied on me illegally. Ask them if my #SethRich evidence is good. Or maybe you already know? Do your job! INVESTIGATE!”